Second Reading

Resumed from 17 June.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Clause 4: Parts 17 and 18 inserted —

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon RICK MAZZA: I think I have got that. Thank you, Mr Deputy Chair.

Amendment 46/4 seeks to ensure that any project with an estimated value of $10 million or more within the metropolitan region, or an estimated value of $5 million outside the metropolitan region, would comply and would not have to meet any other criteria. The consequential amendments relate to removing the criteria for 100 or more units or 20 000 square metres, as it applies to warehouses and industrial-type developments. With that, I move —

Page 4, lines 7 to 13 — To delete the lines.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon ALISON XAMON: I am afraid that it would appear that the good news is relative. The Greens are not enamoured with the news from the government about how it intends to treat the proposed amendment from Hon Rick Mazza. I reiterate the concern of the Greens about the creation of this pathway in the first place. Therefore, the idea that the threshold is proposed to be lowered even further does not instil confidence. It is redefining “significant” to a substantially lower level than is anticipated by the bill. The concern of the Greens is that it will expose more projects to the transparency and oversight risks that my colleague Hon Tim Clifford and I have identified within this legislation and have already outlined to the chamber.

I note also that the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is working within a $4 million budget to set up a new team to support the WAPC to make assessments, based roughly on last year’s numbers, of the 50 or so applications that would have met the criteria as defined originally within the bill. I ask the minister to confirm how many applications would meet the proposed $20 million threshold, and can I also please get confirmation that the budget would support that increase?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON: I am advised that based on data for last year, 2019, the development assessment panels determined 89 applications that would fit a threshold of $20 million for the metropolitan area and $5 million for regional areas. That was approximately 63 metro projects and 26 regional projects.

Hon ALISON XAMON: Can I confirm that we are looking at almost double the number that was originally anticipated with the $30 million threshold? What sort of increase in numbers are we talking about?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON: Originally, I said 60. I am now saying 89. The honourable member might not have been very good at maths, but that is not a doubling. It is 30 more, which is a 50 per cent increase on the previously proposed threshold.

Hon ALISON XAMON: I confirm that I was actually in advanced maths at school—I just thought I would let the minister know that—and as I have said that to the chamber, people will know it is not a lie. The number that I had was 50-odd, which of course is slightly under the 60 that has been claimed here, but it is still a significant increase. The second part of my question was about whether the original budget allocation that has been put aside to set up the team that will manage these new projects will facilitate the increased threshold, or whether more moneys are likely to be required to deal with the additional workload.

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON: Obviously, I am not the minister with responsibility for the bill, and, indeed, this bill has not gone through the Expenditure Review Committee of cabinet, but I am advised that if this amendment is passed, we will work through the implications for the budget. The likelihood is that should additional moneys be required, further support would be sought from Treasury.

Hon ALISON XAMON: I recognise that the minister has not yet gone through the processes to fully determine the implications of the proposed amendment, but is there an approximate indication of the additional moneys that would need to be sought in order to meet the amendment in front of us?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON: Not at this stage.

[speeches and comments of various members]


Amendment put and a division taken, the Chair (Hon Simon O’Brien) casting his vote with the ayes, with the following result —

Ayes (24)

Noes (7)

Hon Martin Aldridge, Hon Jacqui Boydell, Hon Robin Chapple, Hon Tim Clifford, Hon Colin de Grussa, Hon Diane Evers, Hon Alison Xamon (Teller)

Amendment thus passed.

Hon Dr STEVE THOMAS: I move —

Page 4, line 21 — To delete the line.

We discussed this during the second reading debate. My view is that it is unacceptable to remove the Environmental Protection Act as a part of this process, and I am very pleased to see that the Minister for Environment has convinced his cabinet colleagues to agree to that position. I think that is a win for the environment. For those members who missed a riveting second reading contribution, I asked the Minister for Environment how many proposals that would have met the thresholds would have been assessed under the Environmental Protection Act and at what levels. The answer came back that two proposals would have met the threshold and that neither went to formal assessment. It was deemed that they did not need to be assessed. In terms of the minister’s answer it is the case that there are nil projects or proposals that were blocked by the Environmental Protection Act that would have met the threshold. For that reason, I seek to remove the Environmental Protection Act as a legislative instrument that can be ignored. I thank the minister for taking the same position. I ask members of the chamber to support the amendment to remove that legislation from this bill.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon ALISON XAMON: It should come as no surprise to anybody that the Greens will of course be supporting the amendment as proposed by Hon Dr Steve Thomas. I look forward to receiving his membership application for the Greens. We certainly accept that the EP act must be treated as a pre-eminent act within this state, and I hope that continues to be the case in all legislation that comes before this place. I am not going to hold my breath. I do want to say, though, that I still remain concerned about the inclusion of acts such as the Contaminated Sites Act and the Heritage Act, as well as the Swan Valley Planning Act and other important acts. I certainly take the point of law made by Hon Nick Goiran that it raises the question of why these are even here in the first place, but as the Greens are not supportive of the inclusion of any of these acts in the first place, that is not where I am going to be focusing my energy. However, we will absolutely be supporting the amendment in front of us, as well as the subsequent amendments to give effect to it.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Amendment put and passed.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON: As I foreshadowed earlier at amendment 43/4, it is my intention to move an amendment to the amendment, for the reasons that I outlined previously, and I do not propose to range over those reasons again. I move —

In subparagraph (i) — To delete “$10 million” and substitute — $20 million

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon ALISON XAMON: I indicate that the Greens will be supporting the government amendment, but only because it helps to ameliorate an amendment that we do not support at all. I just wanted to make it very clear that although we support the government’s amendment, we still will not support the substantive amendment.

Amendment on the amendment put and passed.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon ALISON XAMON: I will move to delete lines 22 to 25 on page 6.

The DEPUTY CHAIR: Hon Alison Xamon, it has been brought to my attention that the chamber has made the decision to delete line 22, so you may want to consider that matter and move at page 6, lines 23 to 25, to delete the lines.

Hon ALISON XAMON: Thank you, Mr Deputy Chair. Can I please get your guidance on the best way to do that? Do I need to write anything down to effect that change, because clearly the purpose of my amendment still stands and the issue is subject to debate?

The DEPUTY CHAIR: Hon Alison Xamon, if it is acceptable to you, you could simply cross out “22” on the supplementary notice paper and substitute “23” and sign it. If you move that accordingly, that will be the question that I will put.

Hon ALISON XAMON: I move —

Page 6, lines 23 to 25 — To delete the lines.

This amendment seeks to remove the ability for the term “significant development” to be later defined in the regulations. The definition as it is prescribed in the bill is already sufficient to meet what I will remind members is meant to be the short-term focus of part 2 of the bill. The advice that I received during my briefing on the bill is that the department has no plans to create regulations on this matter, and that an alternative way of requesting access to this pathway via the Minister for Planning already exists. I understand that the purpose is to futureproof, which is an avenue I am not supportive of.

Progress reported and leave granted to sit again, pursuant to standing orders.


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